Featured

Welcome to Marina Martindale’s Musings

Writing is one of my life’s passions. I put my heart and soul into each and every romance novel I write, and my blog is where you’ll get the inside scoop. You’ll learn more about your favorite characters, and I’ll talk about what inspires me. And when I start working on my next novel, you’ll be the first to know.

For more information about Marina Martindale please visit the website at MarinaMartindale.com.

Meet Mickey Lee Janson

a lead character in Aquamarine

© Can Stock Photo / piedmont_photo

Mickey Lee Janson, also known as Mike Jablonski, was originally intended to be minor character in my contemporary romance novel, Aquamarine. However, like Jeremy Palmer, from The Reunion and The Journey, Mickey, or Mike, as he prefers to be called, had other ideas. Characters sometimes have minds of their own, and there are times when their ideas are actually better than the author’s. This was one of those times.

Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Mike was an amateur musician who was managing his father’s bar and grill during the day, and singing and playing his guitar at night. He had no intention of becoming famous until his friends suggested he audition for a television talent competition. Mike went to the audition, but only to get his friends off his back. Much to his surprise, he was accepted. From there he made it to the finals, being voted off on the second to last show. However, it was enough. A talent scout from Alicorn Records offered him a recording contract, and Mike Jablonski became Mickey Lee Janson. 

Mike meets glamour model Tonya Claiborne when Tonya is hired to appear with him on an album cover. However, something unexpected will happen during that shoot, and it will change Mike’s and Tonya’s lives forever.

Mike’s original role in the story was intended to be brief. He would try, and fail, to free Tonya from a toxic relationship. She would eventually end up with  a minor character from an earlier contemporary romance novel, The Betrayal. However, as the story progressed, I really liked the way Mike was turning out. He had it in him to be much more than he was. My editor agreed. She also nixed the idea of bringing back the character from The Betrayal. Thus Mike became one of the lead characters.

Mike is a purely fictitious character. He isn’t based on anyone I know, nor is he based on any famous real-life musician, living or dead. His origination rests solely with me, the author.

Marina Martindale

Aquamarine is available on Amazon, and coming soon to Barnes&Noble.com, and other online booksellers. 

So Which One is My Favorite?

Cover illustration by Wesley Lowe.

I’m often asked how many books I’ve written. Danged if I know. After a while, you kind of lose track. However, of all my contemporary romance novels, The Reunion will always be my favorite.

The Reunion was my first full-fledged novel. Prior to that, I was writing children’s books, (as Gayle Martin), and The Luke and Jenny series did quite well. My very first book was a historic, WWII era ration cookbook titled, Anna’s Kitchen, which was later updated into Rosie’s Riveting Recipes. It’s still one of my biggest sellers. However, after Luke and Jenny, I wanted to write more contemporary stories for adult readers, and romance is my favorite genre.

Unlike my later novels, The Reunion is loosely based on events which have happened in my own life. I wrote it as a, “what if” story. As in, what if I had done this instead of that? Of course, I’ll never really know, but The Reunion gave me a chance to imagine one possibility. Leading man Ian is based on someone very special who I once knew. Gillian is me. Sort of. She’s an idea of what my life might have been, had I made different choices. 

Samantha Walsh, Gillian’s best friend, is based on a real-life neighbor I once had. I also met her while I was in college. Her apartment was a few doors down from mine. However, she worked at the parimutuel windows at the dog track instead of a truck stop diner, but some of the stories she told about her job were hilarious. She moved back to Chicago a few months after we met, so I have no idea whatever become of her, but she was certainly unforgettable, to say the least.

Gillian’s ex, Jason Matthews was, I’m sorry to say, based on my own ex-husband. He worked at an Old West Theme park called, Rawhide, which, at the time, was in Scottsdale, Arizona. Like Jason, he kind of swept me off my feet. Unfortunately, also like Jason, he turned out to be an abusive conman. Thankfully, I haven’t heard from him in many years, and so far as I know, he’s alive and well. Although I will admit that writing about Jason’s untimely end was kind of cathartic. Just saying.

I think of my first romance novel as my first child, in a way. Writing it was a life-changing event for me, because doing so was when I realized that writing novels truly is me life’s calling. It’s yet another reason why The Reunion will always be my favorite.

Marina Martindale

The Reunion is available at Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com, and other online book sellers. 

 

 

 

Home Sweet Texas Home

The view from my writing desk. Photo by Marina Martindale

I did it. I’m finally here, in my new home in Denton, Texas. I’m all unpacked and settled. In my last blog post, So Moving Right Along, I talked about my decision to sell my New Mexico home and move to the Dallas Fort Worth area. 

It was a long, hectic spring, to say the least. Buying a home, and selling a home, are quite time consuming. Especially in this crazy real estate market. First, I had to win a bidding war to get my new home. Then, when I returned to Las Cruces, I got to experience the other side when I put my home on the market.

It was, in a word, crazy. We were open for showings for three days, and seemed like hundreds of people were going through my house. I had sixteen offers in the end, with the winning bid coming in at sixty-thousand over my asking price. I kind you not. Sixty grand. Then came the fun of finding the right mover, packing, loading and unloading, and then unpacking. Unpacking definitely takes the longest. 

I love my new home. lt has a much bigger kitchen than my last home. I love cooking. Finally, I have enough counter space and cupboard space. I also have an extra bedroom. It’s my new guest room. Visitors will no longer have to sleep in my office.  

It took a few weeks to finish unpacking, and I’m still moving stuff around. However, my office is up and running, and I have a lovely view out the window. It sure beats my old office, where I had a nice view of the wall. I’ve also finished my newest contemporary romance novel, Aquamarine. I’m very happy with how it turned out. And, interesting enough, it too takes place in Denton, Texas. 

Did life just imitate art? 

Marina Martindale

Aquamarine is available on Amazon

So Moving Right Along

Frisco, Texas at Night. Photo by Gayle Martin

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I certainly as if like the past two years have been like living in a real-life episode of The Twilight Zone.

Prior to the pandemic, I was living in Tucson, Arizona. I’d been there for twelve years and I was doing very well. It reminded me in many ways of my native town of Phoenix, before it became Los Angeles in the desert. I had a good circle of friends, a good social life, and I was absolutely thriving. Unfortunately, it all began changing in late 2019.

In November, 2019, a very controversial candidate was elected mayor of Tucson. Like many cities, Tucson had its share of problems. Unfortunately, this new mayor had her own radical agenda, none of which included improving the quality of life for Tucson citizens. It was time for me to sell my home and move someplace else.

I lived in Dallas many years ago. It was another happy time in my life, but circumstances were such that I had to return to Phoenix. So, I decided I would take a road trip to Texas. I planned on going all the way to Corpus Christi and back. However, we were getting into the holiday season, along with winter driving conditions. So, I decided I would take my road trip in  March, 2020.

Well, we all know what happened in March of 2020, don’t we? I still planned on moving, but instead of going to Texas, I moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico instead. I already had a few friends there. It was also within a day’s drive of Tucson and Phoenix, where the rest of my family lives. If there were an emergency, I could easily get to where I needed to be.

I arrived in New Mexico with every intention of making it my permanent home. However, I soon became disillusioned. My family used to visit relatives in New Mexico when I was a kid. At the time it was a very nice state. Beautiful scenery, friendly people, and it wasn’t as brutally hot as it was in Arizona. Unfortunately, times have changed. It’s no longer the New Mexico I once knew. Long after other states had fully reopened, New Mexico still had mask mandates and other restrictions. Many small, locally own businesses, the places that gave the community its character, ended up shuttering for good. As a result, I was unable to go out and do the things I enjoyed doing, and I was living in total isolation.

We humans are hard-wired to be social creatures. Isolation isn’t good for our mental health and emotional well being. Two years of forced isolation had affected other health issues I had before the pandemic, and not in a good way.  So, I could do one of two things. I could either keep living in isolation, and watch my health continue to deteriorate, or I could take matters into my own hands and get the hell out of New Mexico. I opted for the latter.

This past spring I finally took that road trip to the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex, looking for a new home. It was quite an experience. I got into bidding wars with other folks who, like me, are getting the hell out of “blue” states. I found a lovely home in Denton, north of Dallas, which I’ll be moving in a few weeks.

One of the high points of my visit was when my agent took me to Frisco, a town between Dallas and Denton, for her regular Tuesday night music bingo. It was the first time I’d felt anything close to normal in two years. I was sitting at a big table with unmasked people and I could actually see their faces. They were actually enjoying themselves and we all sang along with the music while we played the game. 

In the meantime, I’ve sold my home in Las Cruces, and I’ll be moving in a few weeks. I can’t wait to start this new chapter in my life.

Marina Martindale

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s What I Wanted to Write

but at the time I couldn’t

© Can Stock Photo/ Kudryashka

Aquamarine is, in some ways, the contemporary romance novel I wanted to write a few years ago, when I wrote The Scandal. The Scandal is the story of Lauren McAllen, a soap opera star who wants to break into the movies while Calvin Michaelson, the main antagonist, would live up to his nickname, Casting Couch Cal. Such was the story I intended to write.

They say timing is everything. Unfortunately, at the time I was formulating the storyline for The Scandal, the real-life Harvey Weinstein scandal made the headlines. It was simply too close to the story I had in mind, and I strive  to create original stories. Therefore, I had to make some changes. Cal would go from sexual manipulator to a man falsely accused of a serious wrongdoing. In the end, it turned out to be a good story. However, it wasn’t the story I originally had in mind.

What a difference a few years can make

Things had changed by the time The Scandal was released. The notorious Mr. Weinstein had been convicted, and the rest of the world had moved on. I had also revisited an earlier contemporary romance novel, The Betrayal. One of the supporting characters, a teenager named Tonya Claiborne, really stood out. She was strong and compelling and certainly worthy of having her own story. This became the inspiration for Aquamarine.

Every story needs a good antagonist. At long last, I had the opportunity to create the bad guy I wanted to create with Cal Michaelson. This time my antagonist is narcissistic, cunning, and manipulative, but on the surface he’s charming, charismatic, and seductive. Hopefully, he will be one of my most memorable villains ever. 

I really, truly love what I do. I put a lot of thought into the characters I create, and all those scoundrels make my job so much fun. Especially when they get their comeuppance. 

Marina Martindale

 

The Scandal is available on  Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

 

 

A Preview of Aquamarine

The newest Marina Martindale contemporary romance novel, Aquamarine, will be released in June. Aquamarine is the story of Tonya Claiborne, a young music student who plans on becoming a music teacher. Tonya’s well-to-do grandmother is helping her through college. Unfortunately for her, it all comes to a sudden halt when her grandmother unexpectedly passes away. Determined to continue her education, new employment opportunity soon comes her way, but once Tonya accepts the offer her life will take another unexpected turn.  

A preview of Aquamarine by Marina Martindale

Tonya Claiborne scanned the room as she finished her guitar solo. Her college jazz ensemble was performing at a Dallas church, and so far everything had gone smoothly. She glanced at the music director, who nodded his head in approval. As the other musicians resumed playing Tonya turned her attention back to the audience. The blonde woman sitting in the front pew gave her another smile. She had been watching Tonya intently for some time. It began while Tonya was singing, “The Girl from Ipanema.”

The audience members were mostly family and friends of the student musicians, along with jazz enthusiasts from the greater Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Tonya wondered if perhaps she had met this woman before. She appeared to be friends with the woman sitting next to her, and both appeared to be enjoying the concert. Tonya shrugged it off and refocused her attention on her music. As the chords faded, the audience once again burst into applause.

Their director returned to the microphone. Their next song would be the final one for the evening. As he stepped aside they began playing, “Caravan.” The mystery woman whispered something to her friend as she nodded toward Tonya and took another photo of her. Her actions made Tonya even more curious. Once the concert was over, she would have to find out who this woman was.

The audience rose to their feet and gave them a standing ovation as they finished. The music director thanked everyone for coming and motioned for the ensemble to stand and take a bow. As the crowd disbursed some headed for the exits while others approached the musicians. Tonya looked toward the back of the room. A young man stood from his seat in the last row and made his way towered the front of the church while the woman in the front pew, along with her friend, walked up to one of the trombone players. He greeted Tonya with a quick kiss a moment later.

“Good job,” he said.

“Oh, Evan, you always say that.”

“Hey, just because I’m your fiance-to-be it doesn’t mean I can’t be your biggest fan too.”

“I know, and I love you for it.” She nodded toward the two women, who were still talking to the trombone player.

“I’m wondering who the lady in the blue sweater might be.”

“Which one?” He stepped back to get a better look.

“The one with the shoulder length blonde hair. She kept her eye on me for some time and she acted like she knew me. We must have crossed paths somewhere, but I can’t recall when.”

“Maybe she’s sizing you up,” Evan said jokingly. “But don’t worry. I can handle her if she tries to make trouble.”

“Thanks, Evan. I know I can always count on you.”

As if on cue, the woman walked up to Tonya and extended her hand. “I wanted to stop by and introduce myself. My name is Melissa Atkins. I’m here tonight with a friend whose nephew is also in the band.”

“Nice to meet you”

“Likewise, and at the risk of sounding too forward, I’m also with the Angela Carson Modeling Agency. The reason I was watching you so closely is because you have the perfect look to be a model. You’re tall and thin and your hair is gorgeous. I snapped a few photos of you with my phone, and you’re certainly photogenic. So, have you ever thought about modeling?”

Tonya brushed a strand of her long, dark hair away from her face. “Well, I’m certainly flattered, but to be honest, I’ve never really thought about it. I’m more focused on my music.”

“I see.” Melissa looked disappointed as she handed Tonya one of her business cards. “Well, you’re certainly a talented musician, and you’re going to a top-notch school, but we do a lot of print modeling here in Dallas, and it pays really well. If you think this is something you might be interested in doing to help with school, then please give me a call.”

 

By the way, Aquamarine is a spin-off  of The Betrayal, an earlier Marina Martindale contemporary romance novel. The Betrayal is available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

 

A Sample from The Betrayal

© Can Stock Photo/ stillfx

My upcoming contemporary romance novel, Aquamarine, includes many of the characters from a previous contemporary romance novel, The Betrayal.  

The Betrayal is a story of infidelity. Emily has literally caught her husband, Jesse, in the act with another woman. Jesse learned a hard lesson as a result, and he’s managed to convince Emily to give him another chance. Emily doesn’t want to give up on Jesse either, and after several weeks of marriage counseling, things are finally looking up.

In this sample we’ll join Emily as she and her friend, Megan, are about to embark on a Caribbean cruise. However, something as innocent as picking up a forgotten passport will soon have unexpected consequences.

A sample from The Betrayal

Megan pulled into Jesse’s driveway and Emily quickly hopped out.

“Wait here. I’ll only be a minute.” She ran up to the front door and rang the bell. Jesse greeted her with a smile and handed over her passport as she stepped across the threshold.

“Here you go,” he said with a smile. “Make sure you keep it in a safe place.”

“I know, I know.”

He wrapped his arms around her. “I know you’re excited, and I know you’ll have a good time, but just be careful, okay? Stay with your group when you do your off-ship excursions. The Caribbean is a beautiful place, but don’t go wandering the back roads by yourselves.”

“I know, Jesse. Don’t worry, we’ll be fine.”

He gave her a kiss and walked her out Megan’s car. “Have fun, be safe, and I love you.”

“I love you too, Jesse.”

He opened the car door and said a quick hello to Megan while Emily slid into the passenger seat. As the car slowly backed into the street he waved goodbye and went back inside. Megan was about to drive away when an older man, who was walking a dog, stepped off the curb and approached them. Emily asked Megan to wait as she rolled down her window.

“Well hello, Jorge. How have you been?”

“I’ve been good, Emily. How ’bout you? I haven’t seen you in a long time. Not since the morning you moved your things out. Is everything okay now?”

“It couldn’t be better.” She quickly introduced him to Megan, saying Jorge and his wife lived three doors down.

“Jesse and I have been working things out. My buddy and I are taking a short trip together, and when we return, I’m moving back in.”

He gave her a warm smile. “I’m glad, Emily. Marta and I have wondered about you, and we were hoping you were okay.”

“I’m fine.”

“Well then, you two ladies have a safe trip, and I’ll see you when you get back.”

“Thanks, Jorge. Please tell Marta hello for me.”

“Will do.”

They waved goodbye as Megan drove off.

***

The Betrayal is available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

Aquamarine Book Cover

Once again, cover artist Wes Lowe has come up with an amazing illustration for the upcoming Marina Marindale contemporary romance novel, Aquamarine.

Aquamarine is a spin-off from an earlier Marina Martindale contemporary romance novel, The  Betrayal. Seventeen-year-old Tonya Claiborne is the younger sister of Annette Claiborne. A minor character in The Betrayal, Tonya is smart, outspoken, and she has an uncanny ability to read people’s body language. We also learn that like her cousin, Emily, Tonya is an aspiring musician.

We meet an adult Tonya in Aquamarine.  She’s now a promising music student whose well-to-do grandmother was helping her pay for college. But when her grandmother unexpectedly passes away, Tonya’s world turns upside down. 

Aquamarine was a fun book to write, and I really liked the cast of characters. Look for Aquamarine in February, 2022.

Marina Martindale

And in case you haven’t read it yet, The Betrayal is available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com

 

 

 

 

Holiday Table Conversations

Photo by Marina Martindale

It’s the time of year for gathering with friends and family, so I invited my good friend and fellow author, David Lee Summers, and his wife, over for dinner. David writes steampunk, science fiction, and horror, so naturally the conversation turned to fiction writing, and famous fictional characters. We got to talking about Star Wars.

I love Star Wars. I saw the first one on the big screen a few weeks after it premiered, and it was amazing. To me, it was sort of like a sci-fi version of Camelot, complete with knights, a princess, and an evil wizard. What made the story work was the characters. We talked about how well all the characters were thought out and developed. Then came the prequels. (Not bad. Not great, but not bad.) After that came Disney. Ugh! Suffice to say the rest of the conversation was about the importance of character arcs and consistency in storytelling.

So, what can I say? Some people get together and discuss sports, current events, or politics. Get storytellers together, and we’ll sit around and analyze famous, iconic characters, and talk about what makes them work. Our inspiration often comes from other storytellers.

Marina Martindale

Meet Tonya Claiborne

a lead character in Aquamarine

© Can Stock Photo/ 2mmedia

Tonya Claiborne was first introduced in my earlier contemporary romance novel, The Betrayal.  She was the seventeen-year-old sister of Annette Claiborne, one of the antagonists, and I created her almost as an afterthought. Like her cousin, Emily, Tonya is an aspiring musician. She also has another talent; reading people’s body language.

While only a minor character in The Betrayal, Tonya nonetheless had a significant role. We’ll meet an adult Tonya in Aquamarine. A music major at The University of North Texas, Tonya looks forward to graduating the following year. She’s also in love with Evan, and they plan to marry once they graduate. However, things don’t always go as planned, and Tonya’s life is about to change in ways she could have never imagined.

Tonya is a purely fictional character. However, in my own life’s journey I’ve run across a few rare individuals who excelled at reading body language, and I was amazed at how accurately they perceived other people. It’s a skill I would have liked to have had myself.

Marina Martindale

Aquamarine is currently available for the  Amazon Kindle. A paperback edition is coming soon.